Brooks Baltich heads a top agency at one of the giant insurance companies, thanks to his all-star team of employees. He finds them by looking where others
don’t, including being open to hiring people who lack the stereotypical look or personality. Here’s a marvelous example:
Brooks had a woman come in to interview for a sales job who was so socially awkward she couldn’t look at him and could barely speak.
She finally said, miserably, “I’m great on the phone, just not in person.”
He said, “Do you want to go to your car and call me?”
She didn’t need to, because that loosened her up. She went on to become one of his best salespeople.
Brooks told me that story a few years back, and he recently told me another one. For background, you should know that Brooks doesn’t believe in hiring
people with insurance agency experience. No, he’d rather train them himself. (In fact, he and his partner, James “Jamie” Brown, started a training company,
B2 Insight University, teaching agents how to hire and train their employees.)
Recently, Brooks got a call from a fellow agent in a nearby town, telling him that he had accepted a position with the parent company. This was a guy with
philosophies and procedures that matched Brooks’ own, so here was a chance to get “pre-trained” employees. But, here’s the rub: Brooks was fully staffed.
So maybe he needed to redefine “fully staffed.” Suddenly, there was a bigger, better agency out there in his future, and it had openings.
Still, it wasn’t easy: the other agency was located two hours away, too far for regular commuting. And the other agency’s book of business wouldn’t come
with the employees, so he’d have to make a big investment in expansion.
Undeterred, Brooks hired three star salespeople, arranging for them to work from home.
So how’s it working out? It’s still early, but Brooks’ agency-of-his-future is growing more in the last few months than his old agency did all of last
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
I’ve heard that some landscape designers wait and put in sidewalks after the grass and plants are installed. They eventually see where the grass gets worn
away and only then do they install sidewalks. That’s how it is with hiring. Find the market and the talent, then figure out the jobs.
As for the talent, great employees are almost never in the job market. You have to seek them out, and when you find one, you have to be worthy.
In the two stories from Brooks we see three ways to be worthy, all variations on being open-minded.
1. Looking past prospects’ surface attributes to spot the talent beneath.
2. Hiring talent whenever and wherever you find it.
3. Fitting the job to the talent.
Said another way, THE TALENT COMES FIRST, but it doesn’t come at all if you aren’t worthy.